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WHAT IS ULTRA PREMIUM?

Ultra Premium (UP) is a new category of olive oil that distinguishes the highest quality olive oil in the world. The UP standard was created in response to the growing need to separate high quality extra virgin olive oils from what dominates the so-called “gourmet” and “premium” olive oil markets, as well as the broader category sold in mass markets the world over under thousands of brands and private labels. The absurdly low standards created and fostered by numerous trade associations and government agencies responsible for policing them has only contributed to the confusion and misinformation. EU producers are actually given a perverse incentive in the form of government subsidies to keep their oils in storage until market conditions improve. This practice clearly demonstrates the governmental complicity with retailers and bottlers to sacrifice quality for price. Lack of enforcement and testing by these trade associations and governmental agencies has led to a marketplace dominated by inferior oils and rife with adulteration. These practices by some of the world’s largest olive oil producers and bottlers have led to a steep decline in prices of extra virgin olive oil and are driving quality oil producers out of business.

The self serving overemphasis on “Where” extra virgin olive oil is produced continues to dominate perceptions at the expense of the far more significant “When, What, and How” the oil is made. The UP standard has as its principal barometers Chemistry and Freshness. These two underappreciated variables can be objectively measured, quantified, and certified. Since the highest quality EVOO comes from high quality fruit coupled with high quality production processes, the UP standard encompasses strict requirements for both the end-product and the production process.

No matter how high the quality of fruit and production methods used, the best olive oils in the world are never as good as when they are fresh. There are no standards for shelf-life of EVOO, and the current IOC “best buy” date is intentionally misleading and utilized at the whim of the retailer and bottler. When a quality EVOO is fresh, there is significantly more positive sensory attributes detectable by the palate. As any EVOO ages, it naturally oxidizes losing positive sensory qualities as well as inheriting defects. Newly developed tests can objectively quantify the “Freshness” of an EVOO at various stages in its lifecycle and are referred to as the “Fresh Pack” tests encompassing both the Diacylglycerol Content (DAGS) and Pyropheophytins (PPP).

The UP standard is reserved for the finest extra virgin olive oils in the world, as such, the UP grade exceeds all existing European, Italian, Spanish, Greek, North American, Californian, or any other standard for the grade known as extra virgin olive oil. In order to qualify for the UP grade, the extra virgin olive oil must meet or exceed a comprehensive set of Production, Storage, Transportation, Testing, Chemistry, and Organoleptic requirements as set forth in the following document. Instead of placing an overemphasis on what is less important (Terroir) to the detriment of the most critical factors (Chemistry and Freshness), the UP program is intended to reward farmers for producing high quality oil. The UP program is intended to promote Fair Trade practices and help create a demand for a higher quality product thereby increasing the value.

How does the UP Program work? Candidate olive oils must provide a sample and agree to have the sample analyzed by an independent laboratory. The oils are tested to ensure that they meet or exceed the verifiable standards of the UP Program. Prior to purchasing an extra virgin olive oil for distribution, Veronica Foods Company requests a sample from the olive oil producer. The sample is sent to an independent lab where both a sensory and chemical analysis are performed to ensure that the oil meets or exceeds our exclusive UP® (Ultra-Premium) standard.

Do you test all brands? No. Only Extra Virgin Olive Oils being considered for the UP program and distribution by Veronica Foods are analyzed.

Does the fact that an olive oil does not have your seal mean that the olive oil is not authentic? No. The UP mark only identifies the highest quality extra virgin olive oils, distributed by Veronica Foods. Our goal is to identify the best olive oils on the market and ensure that they are offered for sale while they are fresh enough to have high levels of important nutrients. Even authentic olive oils may not qualify for the UP® mark.

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THE ULTRA PREMIUM STANDARD

The Ultra Premium (UP) Logo indicates that not only does the olive oil meet the current worldwide standards for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but it also must pass a much more rigorous set of chemical, sensory, storage, production, and compliance requirements. These requirements have been developed into a Private Specification representing a compilation of industry standards, best practices, and proprietary methods for achieving the highest level of quality. This specification encompasses the entire life-cycle process of an olive oil from tree to table. Beginning with the farmer and ending with the sale of a bottle to a customer, the UP Specification defines the best practices which must be followed to obtain an olive oil worthy of the UP Standard…the new highest standard for olive oil in the world.

  • Mechanical extraction using malaxer, centrifugation and decanter

    3.4 MILLING

    Harvest at the optimum moment for quality not yield (can vary with cultivar, conditions, location, and fruit maturity index)

    3.3 HARVESTING

    Sustainable farming practices must be employed

    3.2 FARMING

    Oil must contain 100% of content from olives

    Must be estate produced or have complete traceability of each cultivar

    Must list all variety or varieties of olives

    Must display “Harvest” or “Crush” date

    Cannot be more than 14 months old from Harvest/Crush date

    3.1 GENERAL

    To ensure the highest level of quality olive oil is achieved, the highest quality fruit must be grown and the highest quality production processes utilized throughout the milling facility from beginning to end. These production requirements are based on prior results and therefore represent a set of best practices and guidelines for the farmer. The proof of these processes should be, but is not always, evident in the sensory and chemical analyses of the resulting olive oil.